...is gorgeously blue-skied and white-clouded. Several miles out from town, a field of sunflowers (almost hidden from the road) is in full bloom:
I would like to climb over the brush and get right in amongst them, but the deerflies are too many for me.
Swallows have been gathering for a few weeks now - the telephone wires are covered with long lines of them (though they inevitably scatter as soon as I pull out the camera, and by the time it's turned on and focused most of them have gone):
Tallulah is tucked into her basket under the handlebars...
...enjoying a front-row view of the open road.
Slight detour to visit a favourite group of birches:
Across the road from the birches, feathery asparagus dangles tiny bell-like blossoms which will soon turn to seed:
And Joe-Pye weed is just coming on to bloom, its fuzzy red stalks and rosy buds looking very springlike against the bright blue sky:
A car passes, then slows down, and the driver leans out to ask me: "What are you looking for?" I smile and wave my camera at him. "I'm photographing wildflowers." He nods in comprehension and drives off.
Back on the bike, I round the corner and startle a ... (blogger pauses to look up collective term for blackbirds - apparently there are three: cloud, grind, merl)...
...a cloud of blackbirds who are busy in a field of corn (up to no good, I am sure, from the farmer's point of view, but jam for the passing cyclist-photographer who happens to have camera in hand).
Up a hill, down a grade, past familiar houses and woods. Suddenly it hits me: I can take my time! I don't have to hurry! I'm not training for anything - just out for some pleasant exercise.
On the strength of this we stop at our favourite marshy corner. There are some photo-worthy flowers on either side of this bridge, and Iris looks well against the bridge railing:
To one side, Black-Eyed Susans dance in the wind against a background of spotted knapweed:
On the foremost blossom is a bonus bug, which I didn't notice until the photo-editing stage. He's striped in chocolate and yellow, and matches the flower perfectly:
We re-cross the bridge for a look at the Queen Anne's Lace that grows in the shade on the other side, and Tallulah (after several failed attempts) succeeds in posing on one of the blossom heads.
"Can you make me all misty and romantic-looking?" she asks. "No, but I can guarantee that the focus will be wrong somewhere - maybe that will do," I reply.
The next shot is dreadfully twee, but I had to include it:
As long as we're on a roll....
Back on the bridge, I look over the rail and notice a strange intermittent sparkling of the water. A host of minnows floats beneath the surface, and every so often a group of them will rise together and (I presume) poke their noses out just for a second, creating a quick, magical, glittering flash. Then they sink back below the water as if nothing had happened.
I stand on the bridge for several minutes, watching the small miracle happen again and again, and wishing it could be captured on camera.
And a few miles later we're home, happy and full of fresh air.
...is cloudy and grim and very different from Saturday. Though I carry the camera, I anticipate few photos.
Then I pass a patch of milkweed with bumblebees hugging the blossoms. One flies off at my approach, but the other is intent on its work and pays no attention to the camera just centimetres away:
(I wish I had that same power of focusing on the job at hand to the exclusion of all else. It would come in very handy at home during those periods of would-be creativity when the crochet muse is battling the distraction of Mr. M's comings and goings.)
Miles go by with nothing worthy of a photo. Then a fat woodchuck crosses the road, sees me, and runs panicking into the grass at the other side:
A windmill peeks out from soft-needled pines. Someone is having a bonfire below, and the smoke rises between the trees:
A handsome wooded hillside looms; time for a short (but steep) climb.
The road leads through dim shady woods, dark under the grey sky.
Just as the trees open out, the sun appears. On my left is an incredibly green, glowing field. Two deer stand there: a doe and her fawn. By the time I circle slowly back, the mum has run off but the fawn remains to stare at me:
At the top of the climb and around a corner, the country opens out:
Then down a quick winding descent, and turn right to cross the valley floor.
Around the corner stands a scenic barn which marks the start of the Rustic Road...
...the thought of which is very tempting. But it will take me way off course, so I make plans to come back another day and enjoy it in full.
I'm passing through Amish country now.
Bright barn, with fresh steel roof:
And haystacks behind:
The clouds roll in again, and I'm getting hungry. Time to make tracks for home.
We pass a cheerfully-decorated barn:
Then finally are on the outskirts of our village, where purple loosestrife is blossoming in marshy ground. One last photo stop...
...then home and dinner.
Two good rides, made more so by the hint of approaching autumn and the realisation that the cycling season may soon be drawing to a close.
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